Red Bull relying on strategy and DRS for edge as Miami circuit branded 'a joke'

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Red Bull are hopeful DRS and a strategic edge could help them overhaul Ferrari in Sunday's inaugural Miami Grand Prix, with drivers expecting racing to be difficult on a surface that has been branded "a joke".

World championship leader Charles Leclerc took pole ahead of Carlos Sainz as qualifying ended in a Ferrari one-two.

Max Verstappen was third ahead of Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, who did not mince his words when asked about the track following qualifying.

Echoing a sentiment shared by seemingly every driver in the paddock, Perez was emphatic in his criticism of a lack of grip off the racing line.

"I think most importantly the surface is a joke," Perez told Autosport when asked if there will be overtaking during the race.

"Tomorrow the racing is going to be difficult. And you're going to have the drivers making mistakes because we've been put into this situation."

With racing potentially set to be compromised, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner pointed to the deployment of DRS on straights where Red Bull have a pace advantage over Ferrari as an area where the race could be decided in their favour.

Praising the performance of Verstappen, whose qualifying session was impacted by a lack of track time in Friday practice because of gearbox and hydraulics issues, Horner said: "Max has been on the back foot, he's down on laps on the other guys and still learning about the track so it's a good recovery from him.

"We know both our cars have good straight-line speed and the DRS could be pretty powerful here tomorrow, and with all the support races the braking zones should open up a bit, so there are a couple of places where we should be able to overtake.

"Strategy and pit stops will be crucial, as no one has really been able to do any long runs, it should be a fascinating contest tomorrow."

Leclerc topped the timesheets with a lap of one minute and 28.796 seconds, reaping the benefit of upgrades that appear to have strengthened the hand of the team that have emerged as the favourites to win both championships.

"It's definitely better," Leclerc said of the performance of his F1-75. "Yes, I mean both cars are very competitive, so Carlos and I are very competitive.

"So, it's great for the team and yes, we'll push to try and finish in the same positions tomorrow.

"It is a very strong package that we have, it works in more or less every condition since the beginning of the season so that is a good sign for the future.

"As I've said many times, the upgrades this year will be very, very important. We've had a few here that went in the right direction and hopefully we'll have a few more throughout the season to stay on top."

Verstappen will be out to ensure Ferrari do not stay on top in Florida and joked he may need to call his father for advice, former F1 driver Jos having recently returned to motorsport as a rally driver.

He said: "It's quite slippery outside the racing line, it almost feels like gravel, maybe I need to call my Dad and ask for some rally advice."

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